Comments on: Time For a Check In? http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/ Sharon Astyk's Ruminations on an Ambiguous Future Sat, 14 Jun 2008 23:56:55 +0000 #?v=2.3.2 By: Amelia http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6639 Amelia Wed, 11 Jun 2008 23:30:49 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6639 Salt Lake City checking in -- Considerably more people on foot, on scooters, and on bicycles: I'm seeing many more bike trailers and the local shops can't keep panniers in stock. Gas at the station on the corner is $3.91 for regular; our Costco has it for $3.82, but I'm not seeing queues yet. I've never seen so many people at the bus stops, and the southbound commuter rail line breaks ground in August. I was actually taken aback earlier this week: on a trip to Whole Paycheck for some local salt, I found a parking spot with no difficulty and there were far more staff in the store than shoppers. That's never happened before. Derelict buildings near the light rail/major bus lines are being torn down or repurposed as mixed use development, though at least one project has been delayed by increased material costs. DH's company is ridiculously busy, as they specialize in software for networking and telecommuting; though no one in the company received a raise this year -- in fact, upper management took a pay cut in order to clear debt and invest in better equipment -- his job is as secure as one could hope. More employees are being encouraged to telecommute, with the company paying for home Internet connections and cell phones: the money saved on office space and utility costs is being reinvested in health insurance. Our farmers' market starts this weekend; I expect it to be much busier than usual. The weirdly wet and cool weather this spring has translated into apricots, grapes and figs literally sagging under the weight of developing fruit. Any vacation will consist of a drive into the mountains for a weekend or two: I'd love to go to England and see my friends -- it's been four years -- but it simply isn't going to happen. DS plans to spend Father's Day weekend fishing with his dad, and is going to the library or the park in lieu of drives into the canyons. I think the cable's going to go in a month or two -- we'll have 'Net access paid for, and there are better ways to spend that money. The gym membership may be next: I'll hate to see that go, as the public pool costs are actually higher on a monthly basis for a family membership, and DH loves to swim. Salt Lake City checking in –

Considerably more people on foot, on scooters, and on bicycles: I’m seeing many more bike trailers and the local shops can’t keep panniers in stock. Gas at the station on the corner is $3.91 for regular; our Costco has it for $3.82, but I’m not seeing queues yet. I’ve never seen so many people at the bus stops, and the southbound commuter rail line breaks ground in August.

I was actually taken aback earlier this week: on a trip to Whole Paycheck for some local salt, I found a parking spot with no difficulty and there were far more staff in the store than shoppers. That’s never happened before. Derelict buildings near the light rail/major bus lines are being torn down or repurposed as mixed use development, though at least one project has been delayed by increased material costs.

DH’s company is ridiculously busy, as they specialize in software for networking and telecommuting; though no one in the company received a raise this year — in fact, upper management took a pay cut in order to clear debt and invest in better equipment — his job is as secure as one could hope. More employees are being encouraged to telecommute, with the company paying for home Internet connections and cell phones: the money saved on office space and utility costs is being reinvested in health insurance.

Our farmers’ market starts this weekend; I expect it to be much busier than usual. The weirdly wet and cool weather this spring has translated into apricots, grapes and figs literally sagging under the weight of developing fruit.

Any vacation will consist of a drive into the mountains for a weekend or two: I’d love to go to England and see my friends — it’s been four years — but it simply isn’t going to happen. DS plans to spend Father’s Day weekend fishing with his dad, and is going to the library or the park in lieu of drives into the canyons.

I think the cable’s going to go in a month or two — we’ll have ‘Net access paid for, and there are better ways to spend that money. The gym membership may be next: I’ll hate to see that go, as the public pool costs are actually higher on a monthly basis for a family membership, and DH loves to swim.

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By: Susan in NJ http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6535 Susan in NJ Tue, 10 Jun 2008 17:34:55 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6535 Lydia -- Riding a bike as greatbut as someone who owes the continued existence of her brain to a bike helmet, I would caution you that a bicycle helmet is not something that should be bought used -- a helmet that has been through an accident may look fine but it isn't. Please think about this. Lydia — Riding a bike as greatbut as someone who owes the continued existence of her brain to a bike helmet, I would caution you that a bicycle helmet is not something that should be bought used — a helmet that has been through an accident may look fine but it isn’t. Please think about this.

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By: BuddyS http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6532 BuddyS Tue, 10 Jun 2008 17:22:18 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6532 Things are not too bad for us in Edmonton Alberta. Food and gas prices have risen fast - We've just past the equivalent of $5.00 US a gallon. We are constantly being told that our utilities will be increasing - natural gas price has doubled in a year. We are debt free except for a mortgage so we do have some wiggle room for these cost increases, but we are cutting back on driving - carpooling and no nonessential trips - and we are staying home for our vacation this summer. We eat out only once or twice a month and we are buying more bargain priced foods. Luckily we cut back on buying useless stuff some time ago (electronics, junk food, collectables) and are still able to but a little bit of money into savings each month. I'm going to work on insulating our house better for the winter and hope to do some gardening. The media tells us the economy is strong here; malls, shops and restaurants are very busy – people are indeed spending money, but home prices have been stagnant for almost a year and there are homes for sale on every street. Home equity loans soared here in 06-07 as people saw their homes double in value and I believe we will soon see our economy weaken as a result of the high cost of living and personal debt. Things are not too bad for us in Edmonton Alberta. Food and gas prices have risen fast - We’ve just past the equivalent of $5.00 US a gallon. We are constantly being told that our utilities will be increasing - natural gas price has doubled in a year. We are debt free except for a mortgage so we do have some wiggle room for these cost increases, but we are cutting back on driving - carpooling and no nonessential trips - and we are staying home for our vacation this summer. We eat out only once or twice a month and we are buying more bargain priced foods.

Luckily we cut back on buying useless stuff some time ago (electronics, junk food, collectables) and are still able to but a little bit of money into savings each month.

I’m going to work on insulating our house better for the winter and hope to do some gardening.

The media tells us the economy is strong here; malls, shops and restaurants are very busy – people are indeed spending money, but home prices have been stagnant for almost a year and there are homes for sale on every street. Home equity loans soared here in 06-07 as people saw their homes double in value and I believe we will soon see our economy weaken as a result of the high cost of living and personal debt.

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By: MEA http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6525 MEA Tue, 10 Jun 2008 14:43:11 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6525 Yet another librarian chiming in here -- there have always been children's books set in our world "after things fall apart," been they are coming through catalouging fast and furious right now -- all centered on gobal warming. Shops aren't as well stocked, but no shortages or rationing. More people biking. Even saw somone one without a helmet on the killer road that I'm scared to ride on. More interest in gardening. But as many cars and people as ever at the local organic farmers market. I think that I'm nestled in a very high-end spot, where some people aren't starting to hurt yet, and keep on with business as usual and those are the ones driving to the farmers market. In the little neighborhood I live in, were we aren't such high flyers, there is definately a feeling of trying to cut back, be more careful, and even a sense that we need to strenghten comminity ties. I finally made contact with a delightful newish neighbor who has been making very serious 90% reduction efforts -- nothing like meeting a soul mate. MEA who made herself very ill trying to push a barrow of compost the 1/2 mile to her parents house in 103 degree weather becuase she though if she went slowly and stayed in the shade it would be ok. Saw regular gas for $4.00/gal outside the city limits of Trenton, NJ for the first time. Yet another librarian chiming in here — there have always been children’s books set in our world “after things fall apart,” been they are coming through catalouging fast and furious right now — all centered on gobal warming.

Shops aren’t as well stocked, but no shortages or rationing. More people biking. Even saw somone one without a helmet on the killer road that I’m scared to ride on. More interest in gardening. But as many cars and people as ever at the local organic farmers market. I think that I’m nestled in a very high-end spot, where some people aren’t starting to hurt yet, and keep on with business as usual and those are the ones driving to the farmers market.

In the little neighborhood I live in, were we aren’t such high flyers, there is definately a feeling of trying to cut back, be more careful, and even a sense that we need to strenghten comminity ties. I finally made contact with a delightful newish neighbor who has been making very serious 90% reduction efforts — nothing like meeting a soul mate.

MEA who made herself very ill trying to push a barrow of compost the 1/2 mile to her parents house in 103 degree weather becuase she though if she went slowly and stayed in the shade it would be ok.

Saw regular gas for $4.00/gal outside the city limits of Trenton, NJ for the first time.

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By: lydia http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6522 lydia Tue, 10 Jun 2008 14:07:57 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6522 A few days ago on a Sunday our local REI and Half Price Books stores were absolutely DEAD. Now, they here to fore had been very busy stores. You would think yuppies getting ready for summer backpacking and camping would be at REI. Nope. I am sure the employees are not feeling very good about job security. I wouldn't. It's cold here for June 9th and yesterday horrible wind storms. Oye. I keep wishin and hopin for a normal weather day so i can plant some more beans and squash. Gas here is $4.23 a gallon. I got a bicycle. Found a helmet at the thrift store for a dollar! My apple trees have lots of fruit and I hope to harvest about 150 apples this year. That is a very good thing. I live on a very small fixed income so I have been driving as little as possible, continuing to shop at thrift stores, and keeping watch for free curbside treasures. I went dumpster diving the other day and found over $75.00 worth of brand new tools and the like! Electrical parts, locks with keys, brushes, other misc hardware. I was thrilled. There is increased traffic of police sirens here, it seems like, daily. Crime is up I think. My neighbors big rig has been parked for two or three months- can't afford to haul? Basmati rice is non existant here and the regular rice is being rationed to one bag per customer and the pallets are usually low at Costco. People in grocery store lines are more vocal and I hear more willingness to bitch about the corruption of our "leaders" and the gas prices and such, where as before no one said too much. I am mixing already used coffee grounds with new grounds to stretch it farther. It's actually not that bad. I get the ground free from Starbucks. I wonder how long that will last, or since their customer base is down, will the grounds become a hot item for gardeners and coffee stretchers like me. A few days ago on a Sunday our local REI and Half Price Books stores were absolutely DEAD. Now, they here to fore had been very busy stores. You would think yuppies getting ready for summer backpacking and camping would be at REI. Nope. I am sure the employees are not feeling very good about job security. I wouldn’t.

It’s cold here for June 9th and yesterday horrible wind storms. Oye.
I keep wishin and hopin for a normal weather day so i can plant some more beans and squash.

Gas here is $4.23 a gallon. I got a bicycle. Found a helmet at the thrift store for a dollar!

My apple trees have lots of fruit and I hope to harvest about 150 apples this year. That is a very good thing.

I live on a very small fixed income so I have been driving as little as possible, continuing to shop at thrift stores, and keeping watch for free curbside treasures. I went dumpster diving the other day and found over $75.00 worth of brand new tools and the like! Electrical parts, locks with keys, brushes, other misc hardware. I was thrilled.

There is increased traffic of police sirens here, it seems like, daily.
Crime is up I think. My neighbors big rig has been parked for two or three months- can’t afford to haul?

Basmati rice is non existant here and the regular rice is being rationed to one bag per customer and the pallets are usually low at Costco.

People in grocery store lines are more vocal and I hear more willingness to bitch about the corruption of our “leaders” and the gas prices and such, where as before no one said too much.

I am mixing already used coffee grounds with new grounds to stretch it farther. It’s actually not that bad. I get the ground free from Starbucks. I wonder how long that will last, or since their customer base is down, will the grounds become a hot item for gardeners and coffee stretchers like me.

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By: Christina http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6516 Christina Tue, 10 Jun 2008 05:32:02 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6516 Europe calling: Reports this morning about the stock market in Stockholm being shaky and going down. The oil price is cited as the main reason. Food prices still going up. Interest is supposed to be going up, so everyone with house loans will have to pay more - I'm really happy we bought an unexpensive house!! And truck drivers in Spain are on a strike to protest against the rising gas prices. So, yes, we are feeling the crisis too, but not to the same extent as in the US. Christina Sweden Europe calling:

Reports this morning about the stock market in Stockholm being shaky and going down. The oil price is cited as the main reason. Food prices still going up.

Interest is supposed to be going up, so everyone with house loans will have to pay more - I’m really happy we bought an unexpensive house!!

And truck drivers in Spain are on a strike to protest against the rising gas prices.

So, yes, we are feeling the crisis too, but not to the same extent as in the US.

Christina
Sweden

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By: Susan http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6511 Susan Tue, 10 Jun 2008 00:11:13 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6511 Many interesting replies. New England, within commuting distance to Boston - I've noticed the traffic is slowing down. If I travel 60mph in a 65 zone, there are a growing number of cars pacing with me. Just a month ago commuting traffic would pass if you were doing less than 75mph. A large concern here in MA as in Maine, NH, Vermont, is the price of heating oil. It is almost doubled since the end of the last heating season (about $4.50/gal). For those not paying attention to the oil situation it is a huge surprise. We've just purchased an electric quartz heater and are cutting a supply of fire wood for ourselves and my daughter (in NH). Many interesting replies. New England, within commuting distance to Boston - I’ve noticed the traffic is slowing down. If I travel 60mph in a 65 zone, there are a growing number of cars pacing with me. Just a month ago commuting traffic would pass if you were doing less than 75mph.

A large concern here in MA as in Maine, NH, Vermont, is the price of heating oil. It is almost doubled since the end of the last heating season (about $4.50/gal). For those not paying attention to the oil situation it is a huge surprise. We’ve just purchased an electric quartz heater and are cutting a supply of fire wood for ourselves and my daughter (in NH).

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By: Pippi http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6505 Pippi Mon, 09 Jun 2008 20:29:48 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6505 Elizabeth, Babies are really quite cheap! My little one is 7 months, happy as can be, and has almost nothing the Babies R' Us claims is "required." :) She sleeps in our bed (easier for nursing at night and no $$ for a crib, spent the first 6 months carried in a carrier (no special infant stroller), and is cloth diapered. We got a changing table for free from a friend that stores our cloth diapers and blankets and have limited ourselves to 1 baby containing device at a time (bouncy seat to booster seat, nothing else). I'd say there are a few things worth spending a bit of money on because you use them so much. Diapers are one. You can get them used but if you plan on having more than one baby it might be worth buying new so they'll last longer. A good baby carrier like an Ergo (I'd also get a long piece of stretchy cotton for a wrap when the baby's really little) is worth the price in my opinion. People gave us so much clothing we've barely bought a thing and toys and other stuff can easily be found on craigslist. I bought some good water-proof blankets for her to sleep on in our bed that catch the breast milk and occasional diaper leak and keep me from having to wash our sheets all the time. Here in Vancouver public transit use has been rising steadily for years, biking is up and so is gardening (I'm trying to start my first one but the cold rainy weather is making it difficult). Housing prices are still insanely high and we're completely priced out of the market. Our jobs are secure as I'm a teacher and my husband is an emergency planner -- not a bad job to have these days. Our weather has gone crazy, however, and we're in the middle of "Juneuary." Lots of local farmers are having a really hard time and our increasing popular farmers' market doesn't have enough to fill demand. I'm enjoying the blog and comments -- thanks Sharon for all the hard work! Elizabeth,

Babies are really quite cheap! My little one is 7 months, happy as can be, and has almost nothing the Babies R’ Us claims is “required.” :) She sleeps in our bed (easier for nursing at night and no $$ for a crib, spent the first 6 months carried in a carrier (no special infant stroller), and is cloth diapered. We got a changing table for free from a friend that stores our cloth diapers and blankets and have limited ourselves to 1 baby containing device at a time (bouncy seat to booster seat, nothing else).

I’d say there are a few things worth spending a bit of money on because you use them so much. Diapers are one. You can get them used but if you plan on having more than one baby it might be worth buying new so they’ll last longer. A good baby carrier like an Ergo (I’d also get a long piece of stretchy cotton for a wrap when the baby’s really little) is worth the price in my opinion. People gave us so much clothing we’ve barely bought a thing and toys and other stuff can easily be found on craigslist. I bought some good water-proof blankets for her to sleep on in our bed that catch the breast milk and occasional diaper leak and keep me from having to wash our sheets all the time.

Here in Vancouver public transit use has been rising steadily for years, biking is up and so is gardening (I’m trying to start my first one but the cold rainy weather is making it difficult). Housing prices are still insanely high and we’re completely priced out of the market. Our jobs are secure as I’m a teacher and my husband is an emergency planner — not a bad job to have these days.

Our weather has gone crazy, however, and we’re in the middle of “Juneuary.” Lots of local farmers are having a really hard time and our increasing popular farmers’ market doesn’t have enough to fill demand.

I’m enjoying the blog and comments — thanks Sharon for all the hard work!

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By: WNC Observer http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6503 WNC Observer Mon, 09 Jun 2008 19:38:55 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6503 Hi Sharon, Western NC reporting in here. Food: Our town's Saturday farmer's market is booming, a few more people selling stuff and a lot more buyers. We've got a few more gardeners at the community garden this year, too. Half the plots are dedicated for local food bank production, with volunteer labor provided by local college students. I'm noticing more gardens in people's yards, too, although it is still a minority thing. (To be fair, we have so many trees around here that finding a spot that gets enough sunlight is a challenge.) We escaped a late hard frost this spring, so all the fruit trees are loaded, with cherries, blueberries and peaches all due to become ripe within the next few weeks. My 1st honeybee hive is doing well, it is looking like I actually will have a good honey harvest my first year. The new beekeeper class I attended this past February had 300 people in attendance, and the local beekeper club has almost doubled in membership - beekeeping is getting to be a really big thing around here, and the bees seem to be doing OK here, no reports of CCD so far. We had good rain this spring, but things are turning hot and dry now, we could use some more rain. For me personally, finding time to keep up with everything is the big challenge right now. Transport: I'm seeing a few more Priuses & other hybrids, but not much evidence of people ditching SUVs or pickups yet; it is a mountainous area, many people actually do need 4wd. Not much evidence of people slowing down while on the road yet. The only big-3 auto dealer in town has gone bankrupt, most of his business was SUVs and pickups; I'll be surprised if anyone gets the dealership up and running again. I've just started to see a few electric vehicles around; the town police have gotten themselves a GEM, and there are a couple of people that have what look to be glorified golf carts that are apparently road-OK. Just seeing a little more bicycling, but LOTS more scooters around; the local scooter dealer is doing a booming business. I'm walking to work now, I've not come across any evidence that anyone else is doing so yet. The local shuttle bus service is doing OK, and apparently there are enough riders on the bus to Asheville to keep it running. What we really need is for passenger rail service to be restored to Asheville, or it won't be long until we are isolated and stranded up here. Housing & Residential Energy: Our local housing market has seemed to be doing better than the rest of the country. There are more houses on the market, but we don't seem to be having a lot of foreclosures. Many of those houses on the market are not selling, because the retirees that want to relocate here can't sell their homes. There is still some construction going on, but mostly stuff that was already "in the pipeline"; spec home construction has pretty much ground to a halt. A lot of contractors are keeping busy with home remodeling and retrofitting. I'm not seeing much evidence of anyone putting in solar panels yet, but there is a lot of interest in energy efficiency retrofits. Also a lot of interest in rainwater catchment systems. Green building has become a pretty big thing around here. As for myself personally, I'm trying to get more energy efficiency retrofits in as I can afford them. I'm especially concerned about propane prices, as I use far more propane than gasoline. I'm getting set up to use the woodstove a lot more next winter, and have quite a bit of wood accumulated that I need to cut and chop. Quite a few other people around here heat with wood, too (or at least use it to supplement), and I saw a lot of people eager to gather firewood from downed trees during the last big storm. Economy: Without tourists and retirees, we'd have to return to a backwoods hillbilly economy. So far, the tourists still seem to be coming; WNC is within a day's drive of most cities in the eastern US, and offers good value vacationing, so we are probably picking up as many people downsizing and economizing on their vacations as we are losing people who are cutting out vacations altogether. I'm not sure how many years that game can continue. If we don't get passenger rail within 5-10 years, we'll start hurting big time; with passenger rail, we can continue to have tourism here just like we did 100+ years ago. As for the retirees, and the health care industry that serves them, the big question is whether new retirees will be able to afford to relocate here as the older ones die off. I'm afraid most Boomers will be aging in place, they just don't know it yet. Of course, should Social Security and the 401Ks and pensions all go belly up, that would be a real disaster for our local economy, as the percentage of local income that is non-wage-earnings is about twice the national average. I'm not seeing any evidence that any of the local government or community movers and shakers have a clue about these dark clouds on the horizon. People are not one tenth as anxious as they should be. As for myself and my wife personally, my job is relatively secure; hers should be, but due to poor management we're pretty worried about her long term job security. We're trying to get our debts paid off as quickly as we can, and to get our long term preps in place. Local handcrafts are really big around here, quite a few people are earning at least some money making stuff for sale to the tourists; my wife has gotten into this as a sideline herself. That won't be sustainable if the tourists go away, but then again maybe we have the foundations for a local "World Built By Hand". Hi Sharon, Western NC reporting in here.

Food: Our town’s Saturday farmer’s market is booming, a few more people selling stuff and a lot more buyers. We’ve got a few more gardeners at the community garden this year, too. Half the plots are dedicated for local food bank production, with volunteer labor provided by local college students. I’m noticing more gardens in people’s yards, too, although it is still a minority thing. (To be fair, we have so many trees around here that finding a spot that gets enough sunlight is a challenge.) We escaped a late hard frost this spring, so all the fruit trees are loaded, with cherries, blueberries and peaches all due to become ripe within the next few weeks. My 1st honeybee hive is doing well, it is looking like I actually will have a good honey harvest my first year. The new beekeeper class I attended this past February had 300 people in attendance, and the local beekeper club has almost doubled in membership - beekeeping is getting to be a really big thing around here, and the bees seem to be doing OK here, no reports of CCD so far. We had good rain this spring, but things are turning hot and dry now, we could use some more rain. For me personally, finding time to keep up with everything is the big challenge right now.

Transport: I’m seeing a few more Priuses & other hybrids, but not much evidence of people ditching SUVs or pickups yet; it is a mountainous area, many people actually do need 4wd. Not much evidence of people slowing down while on the road yet. The only big-3 auto dealer in town has gone bankrupt, most of his business was SUVs and pickups; I’ll be surprised if anyone gets the dealership up and running again. I’ve just started to see a few electric vehicles around; the town police have gotten themselves a GEM, and there are a couple of people that have what look to be glorified golf carts that are apparently road-OK. Just seeing a little more bicycling, but LOTS more scooters around; the local scooter dealer is doing a booming business. I’m walking to work now, I’ve not come across any evidence that anyone else is doing so yet. The local shuttle bus service is doing OK, and apparently there are enough riders on the bus to Asheville to keep it running. What we really need is for passenger rail service to be restored to Asheville, or it won’t be long until we are isolated and stranded up here.

Housing & Residential Energy: Our local housing market has seemed to be doing better than the rest of the country. There are more houses on the market, but we don’t seem to be having a lot of foreclosures. Many of those houses on the market are not selling, because the retirees that want to relocate here can’t sell their homes. There is still some construction going on, but mostly stuff that was already “in the pipeline”; spec home construction has pretty much ground to a halt. A lot of contractors are keeping busy with home remodeling and retrofitting. I’m not seeing much evidence of anyone putting in solar panels yet, but there is a lot of interest in energy efficiency retrofits. Also a lot of interest in rainwater catchment systems. Green building has become a pretty big thing around here. As for myself personally, I’m trying to get more energy efficiency retrofits in as I can afford them. I’m especially concerned about propane prices, as I use far more propane than gasoline. I’m getting set up to use the woodstove a lot more next winter, and have quite a bit of wood accumulated that I need to cut and chop. Quite a few other people around here heat with wood, too (or at least use it to supplement), and I saw a lot of people eager to gather firewood from downed trees during the last big storm.

Economy: Without tourists and retirees, we’d have to return to a backwoods hillbilly economy. So far, the tourists still seem to be coming; WNC is within a day’s drive of most cities in the eastern US, and offers good value vacationing, so we are probably picking up as many people downsizing and economizing on their vacations as we are losing people who are cutting out vacations altogether. I’m not sure how many years that game can continue. If we don’t get passenger rail within 5-10 years, we’ll start hurting big time; with passenger rail, we can continue to have tourism here just like we did 100+ years ago. As for the retirees, and the health care industry that serves them, the big question is whether new retirees will be able to afford to relocate here as the older ones die off. I’m afraid most Boomers will be aging in place, they just don’t know it yet. Of course, should Social Security and the 401Ks and pensions all go belly up, that would be a real disaster for our local economy, as the percentage of local income that is non-wage-earnings is about twice the national average. I’m not seeing any evidence that any of the local government or community movers and shakers have a clue about these dark clouds on the horizon. People are not one tenth as anxious as they should be. As for myself and my wife personally, my job is relatively secure; hers should be, but due to poor management we’re pretty worried about her long term job security. We’re trying to get our debts paid off as quickly as we can, and to get our long term preps in place. Local handcrafts are really big around here, quite a few people are earning at least some money making stuff for sale to the tourists; my wife has gotten into this as a sideline herself. That won’t be sustainable if the tourists go away, but then again maybe we have the foundations for a local “World Built By Hand”.

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By: Fern http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6502 Fern Mon, 09 Jun 2008 19:34:32 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/06/08/time-for-a-check-in/#comment-6502 Here - DC suburbs, east side - gas is up, of course. About $4 per gallon at the least expensive place in town and $4.17 at the most expensive place. Food is up, but corn-based products less than wheat based ones. A package of 95 fresh corn tortillas is about $4.39, less than half the cost of whole wheat bread. I spent the early afternoon today sitting under a tree frying tortilla shells for dinner, so as to not heat the house doing it. It was only 95 out, with code orange air quality and high humidity. Our 1/10 of a steer (we team up with friends to buy half of a grass raised organic grain finished one) was up 50 cents a pound this year, came out to be about $5 per pound average for the meat. CSA price was up $50, I work there and bring my son to work with me most of the time to work off some of the price. While the local farmers market is somewhat busy - it's a bit early in the year for most items - almost no one walks or bikes to it. Pretty much the only walkers and bikers here are doing it for exercise, not commuting, other than the immigrants. We have our own business, it's always been boom and bust - this is the boom time of the year. Some years the bust is from July thru' the end of the year, we'll see how this year works out. We work out of our home, so there's no commute. Son is transferring from a community college 27 miles away and that commute to a state university 15 miles away, and should be able to find folks to car pool with - there isn't any good public transportation to and from either of them. If he was going to DC or Baltimore, or even the 'teachers college' in town, commuting would be a breeze. If he lived on or near campus, it would cost an additional $7K or more a year, even if he can't find carpoolers driving shouldn't cost more than $2000 a year (assuming gas doesn't top $5 per gallon over the next year). I've been canning as much as possible, moving away from freezing what I grow and extra from the CSA. That, too, gets done outside under the trees in the back yard to keep the house cool. I'm interested in drying food more, but fear that non-electric/heated ones will lead to mold problems - DC used to be a swamp, and humidity here is very high. Business expenses have been way up lately. We have a conference we have to go to each year, the price for our booth there has gone up from $2K to $3500. Air fare hasn"t increased, only because we're taking red eye flights. Shipping our booth materials there will have gone up due to gas hikes. Husband has finally changed to 'end of oil' view from cornucopian/technology will solve everything' view. Hasn't changed his BEHAVIOR, but one step at a time. Here - DC suburbs, east side - gas is up, of course. About $4 per gallon at the least expensive place in town and $4.17 at the most expensive place. Food is up, but corn-based products less than wheat based ones. A package of 95 fresh corn tortillas is about $4.39, less than half the cost of whole wheat bread. I spent the early afternoon today sitting under a tree frying tortilla shells for dinner, so as to not heat the house doing it. It was only 95 out, with code orange air quality and high humidity.

Our 1/10 of a steer (we team up with friends to buy half of a grass raised organic grain finished one) was up 50 cents a pound this year, came out to be about $5 per pound average for the meat. CSA price was up $50, I work there and bring my son to work with me most of the time to work off some of the price.

While the local farmers market is somewhat busy - it’s a bit early in the year for most items - almost no one walks or bikes to it. Pretty much the only walkers and bikers here are doing it for exercise, not commuting, other than the immigrants.

We have our own business, it’s always been boom and bust - this is the boom time of the year. Some years the bust is from July thru’ the end of the year, we’ll see how this year works out. We work out of our home, so there’s no commute. Son is transferring from a community college 27 miles away and that commute to a state university 15 miles away, and should be able to find folks to car pool with - there isn’t any good public transportation to and from either of them. If he was going to DC or Baltimore, or even the ‘teachers college’ in town, commuting would be a breeze. If he lived on or near campus, it would cost an additional $7K or more a year, even if he can’t find carpoolers driving shouldn’t cost more than $2000 a year (assuming gas doesn’t top $5 per gallon over the next year).

I’ve been canning as much as possible, moving away from freezing what I grow and extra from the CSA. That, too, gets done outside under the trees in the back yard to keep the house cool. I’m interested in drying food more, but fear that non-electric/heated ones will lead to mold problems - DC used to be a swamp, and humidity here is very high.

Business expenses have been way up lately. We have a conference we have to go to each year, the price for our booth there has gone up from $2K to $3500. Air fare hasn”t increased, only because we’re taking red eye flights. Shipping our booth materials there will have gone up due to gas hikes.

Husband has finally changed to ‘end of oil’ view from cornucopian/technology will solve everything’ view. Hasn’t changed his BEHAVIOR, but one step at a time.

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